There was a Parent's Day thingy at a local school and we had a table - two actually - all to ourselves. Daniel (I am allowed to mention fellow bloggers in my posts, aren't I?) got to sit on cobbler's stool, armed with cutesy-pie drawing tablet (Genius 4 x 6) and I got to hang around and spectate.
The original plan was to use Daniel's drawing skills for a marketing ploy as he sketched on the little grey square and the pictures - as if by magic! - came to life onscreen. As it turned out, children don't like watching others do something; they'd rather do it themselves.
So for the next 4 odd hours, the tablet passed from one set of small fingers to another as everyone tried their hand at it. You could see the differences even then - the giggly-girl bunch who came only to try out a new 'cool' thing and scribbled little love notes on the screen (aah, the total lack of guile at that age!) and the serious ones who hung around until the very last minute for one more chance to wield the pen.
It's the second lot that really amazed me. These little kids sitting there drawing without a care for what others will think of their abilities. We forget that as adults. And that's what animation reminds you to do. Just put your heart into the story and forget everything else while you tell it.
There was one boy who stuck out though. I'm hoping I don't forget him for a long time. He had this air of sincerity about him and an interest that seemed to run just that necessary bit deeper than the usual boyish obsession in super heroes and comics. Very likeable chap. Okay, okay, he was just shoo shweet! :)
So anyway, N (let's call him that) made his very first movie using the tablet and I have it saved in the unrealistic hope that someday when he'll become this great animator and want to have it as a memory. I know I have a lot of my firsts that I keep for purely sentimental value. That's what helps keep the dreams alive when you're down, that drawing or piece of writing that you pulled out from deep within in a moment of complete Belief that you would succeed. (And why shouldn't you?)
Fears and insecurities are things we teach ourselves as adults. True, they save us from getting hurt, but when it comes to art, getting hurt is part of the process of production. I think that's one of the most obvious differences between an animation that is well-produced and one that actually touches you. The artists behind the scene or the drawing that stays with you for ages afterwards must have put something of themselves into the work.
That's why as I put up my first offering to the visual side of this blog, I do so with a trembling ego and a silent thanks to N for reminding me of the really important thing in this business: purity of involvement.
After all, a drawing is simply a bunch of lines. It's the artist who breathes life into it.